Sandy leaves freight, passenger rail service stunned

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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A boat rests on the tracks at Metro-North’s Ossining Station on the Hudson Line.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Freight and passenger rail providers across the Northeast scrambled Tuesday morning to assess damage left by Hurricane Sandy and restore service where possible.

Norfolk Southern was advising customers to continue to expect delays in freight, while CSX implemented an embargo on traffic originating on other rail carriers and traveling to an area from Boston to Philadelphia excluding Selkirk, N.Y. The railroad said the embargo is necessary to avoid congestion on the network and support a fluid recovery when the storm passes. CSX train operations remain suspended on its network from Richmond, Va., north to Albany, N.Y.

Some passenger service was either partially restored or scheduled to be restored later Tuesday afternoon. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail, Red, Blue and Orange subway lines and Mattapan Hi-Speed Line had all resumed service, but the Green Line’s D-Branch sustained wire and pole damage required buses to shuttle passengers. The Maryland Transit Administration will operate limited service starting at noon on Tuesday, October 30, for local bus, subway and mobility/paratransit. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will restore bus and rail service Tuesday afternoon on modified schedules and expects to resume normal service levels (i.e. rush hour service) for Wednesday morning’s commute.

Meanwhile, all service remains suspended on NJ Transit, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s commuter and transit lines and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

New York’s system seemed to take a particularly brutal hit with MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota saying in a prepared statement the system “has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night.”

Lhota’s statement said, “As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel…We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.”

Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, Bridge/Retaining Walls/Tunnels, C&S, Class 1, Commuter/Regional, Intercity, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Safety/Training